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United States v. Salmons

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

October 12, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
BLAIN SALMONS, JR., Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued: September 12, 2017

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, at Charleston. Thomas E. Johnston, Chief District Judge. (2:15-cr-00171-1)

         ARGUED

          Lex A. Coleman, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant.

          Timothy Doyle Boggess, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellee.

         ON BRIEF

          Christian M. Capece, Federal Public Defender, Jonathan D. Byrne, Research & Writing Specialist, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellant.

          Carol A. Casto, United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Charleston, West Virginia, for Appellee.

          Before WILKINSON, MOTZ, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.

          WILKINSON, Circuit Judge:

         Is the West Virginia crime of aggravated robbery, W.Va. Code § 61-2-12 (1961), a predicate crime of violence under the force clause of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2? The district court held that it was categorically violent, and we affirm its judgment.

         I

         Blain Salmons Jr. pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm under 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). This crime carries a base offense level of 14, see U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(6)(A), unless the defendant has a prior conviction for a crime of violence, in which case the base offense level rises to 20. See U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(a)(4)(A). The term "crime of violence" is defined with reference to U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a). See U.S.S.G. § 2k2.1 cmt. n.1.

         Salmons had previously been convicted of West Virginia aggravated robbery. At the time of Salmons' conviction, aggravated robbery was defined as the successful or attempted commission of a "robbery by partial strangulation or suffocation, or by striking or beating, or by other violence to the person, or by the threat or presenting of firearms, or ...


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